LAFC: Seattle Victory followed by Loss to Whitecaps

Just when it appeared that LAFC was on the road to recovery, it hit a bump up in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. After a significant and very satisfying 3-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders FC at Banc of California Stadium last Sunday, October 11, Los Angeles Football Club suffered a 2-1 letdown at Providence Park (home of the Portland Timbers). The Whitecaps are playing their MLS home-games in the United States due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions.

The Black and Gold responded too late, scoring on Eduard Atuesta's penalty kick in the 83rd minute to cut the lead in half. LAFC had excellent opportunities in the 18-yard box to equalize, including five minutes of stoppage time, but Vancouver goalkeeper Evan Bush somehow survived. The loss came after the team had won four of the six previous matches. LAFC (7-6-3) is now tied with FC Dallas for fourth place in the Western Conference with 24 points each.

"I didn't think we did a good enough job of playing quickly enough, making the right pass, making good decisions on the ball. We stepped up on their play that led to their goal," said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley via online conferencing following the match. "The first half from a football standpoint the whole team wasn't good. It wasn't an easy half. There was no fluidity. Vancouver, today, played more off of long balls, off of second balls. So, we really never got much going."

Caps forward Lucas Cavallini earned strong consideration for MLS Player of the Week honors with two goals against the LAFC defense and goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega. The first came in the 30th minute when Fredy Montero hit Cristian Dajome in the box, to Cavallini in front of the net for the put away.

Bradley: "They found an outlet and then Dajomes (Cristian, midfielder) got just in behind Eddie (Segura, defender). And then we didn't do a good job on Cavallini (Lucas, forward) in front of the goal." I thought we started the second half in a much brighter way. Tempo got picked up a little bit and now you're trying to push to get back to 1-1. Little bit of a counter situation, I don't think we defend well in front of the goal.

In the 59th minute the same trio combined on a similar pattern to make it 2-0. It was a remarkable effort by Vancouver to record its second consecutive win after laboring a four-match losing streak. The win also vaulted the Caps into a tie with Real Salt Lake for the eighth and final spot to qualify for the MLS Playoffs starting in mid-November. Both currently have 21 points, three behind fourth-place LAFC in the Conference race.

It was a blue-collar win featuring the Danny Musovski Show on Sunday afternoon at the Banc when LAFC beat rival Seattle Sounders FC. Musovski scored two goals and a one assist in the 3-1 win over the MLS defending Champions and currently tied for the Conference lead with Portland. His first goal came via a header into the back right of the net from a free kick delivered by midfielder Eduard Atuesta.

Musovski's first career MLS regular season assist on Francisco Ginella's goal in the 65th minute gave LAFC a 2-0. He earned his bracket with a much-needed goal in the 84th minute, the first of his career. The Sounders had cut the lead to 2-1 in 77th minute on Nicolas Lodeiro's stunning free kick from yards outside the box. Musovski's second score came on a left-footed shot into the left corner of the goal off a rebound from Latif Blessing's shot.

Seatte squandered numerous opportunities to score. They had 19 total shots on goal but only five were on target. Including Seattle's wayward shots from close range, Sisniega and LAFC's defense had a fine outing by holding Seattle's formidable offense to a single set-piece goal. Five of the shots were blocked. The Sounders also controlled the ball for almost 55% of the match. LAFC's ability to clear the ball 29 times was a factor countering that.

"We started off great, and it was a good first half, and then in the second half in the moments where we had to suffer," said Sisniega following the team's first regular-season win in three matches with Seattle this season. "We knew how to kind of contain that and suffer as a team and I think that's something that is important to develop in our game and something that's going to carry on throughout the season. I'm very happy with the win and it's a great team win."

Unfortunately the win came at a price for LAFC. The team suffered another injury on the field when midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye left the field in the first half with an apparent ankle injury. However, later the x-rays reportedly came back negative. Eerily, Andy Najar came on to replace Kaye and was injured eight minutes later. He was substituted for by Mohamed El-Munir, who finished the game on the field.

LAFC was already without some key players. Forwards Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez have national team obligations with Uruguay. Midfielder Jose Cifuentes and defender Diego Palacios are away on the same duties with Ecuador. Last season's MLS Player of the year, Carlos Vela, is still unavailable due to a knee injury suffered during the MLS is Back Tournament, late July in a 2-1 loss to the L.A. Galaxy.

Bradley mentioned the importance of the back-to-back wins after the Seattle match: "We've talked on a number of occasions about trying to follow up a good effort and see if we can be strong again in the next game. And hasn't always worked out that way. And so tonight is something that everybody feels good about, and hopefully we can build on it."

LAFC doesn't have to go very far for its next match to start rebuilding on. They take on the Portland Timbers this Sunday, 7:00 p.m., October 18 at Providence Park. The Black and Gold beat the Timbers 4-2 the last time the teams met on Sunday, September 13, at the Banc. Portland lost 2-1 to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night after having won their previous five matches. It's not going to be easy for LAFC with the Timbers currently tied and battling for the Conference title.


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